Some May chores to do before the summer heat arrives

Published on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 19:25 - Written by ANDIE RATHBONE, Smith County Master Gardeners

May is, I think, our gardening sweet spot. We’re still getting good rainfall, the temperatures haven’t gotten too awfully hot and our annuals and perennials are at their blooming best. In fact, our gardens look the best in May and the first couple weeks in June, which is why so many garden clubs schedule garden tours at this time.

You can still plant this month, but I try to get everything I want planted in the ground before the end of the month. I don’t like to plant - even heat loving plants - when we start getting seriously hot and the rains just seem to stop for the summer. Things are also growing really fast, so make sure you keep up with deadheading and weeding. Don’t let things get away from you this month. You may never catch up.

Ready? Here’s your list of things to do:

- Pinch back growth of fall-blooming perennials like asters and chrysanthemums to promote bushier plants and more blooms in the fall.

-Deadhead perennials, annuals and roses to encourage continual blooms.

-Allow bulb foliage to die back naturally. This encourages the bulbs to store enough energy to produce a good crop of flowers next spring.

-Dig and divide perennials. Give the extras to your friends.

-Maintain 4 to 6 inches of mulch on your beds to conserve water and to keep the ground cool.

-Side dress tomatoes and peppers every 14 days after fruit sets.

-Fertilize container plants weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer

-Plant warm-season grasses like St. Augustine, Bermuda and Zoysia

-Plant heat loving annuals like Caladium, periwinkle, purslane, celosia and purple fountain grass

-Plant tropical annuals into beds or patio containers: Mexican heather grass, hibiscus, shrimp plant, cupheas, Mandevilla, Bouganvilla and esperanza

-Plant cannas, gladiolas and other summer-blooming bulbs

-Prune spring-blooming shrubs after they bloom.

-Prune climbing roses after they bloom.

-Treat individual fire ant mounds as they appear.

-Check azaleas for lace bugs.

-Provide food and water for the birds; keep hummingbird feeders filled. As the weather gets hot toward the end of the month, change hummingbird nectar every week to avoid it fermenting.

Enjoy every lovely spring day we have. All too soon our Texas summer will be upon us.